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SOILWORK: Their Progressive Summit!

Interview with guitarist David Andersson of Soilwork by Vera in November 2020

We always followed Soilwork with genuine eagerness. The fact that the members of this Swedish melodic death metal band are skilled in more than one style might be common knowledge since The Night Flight Orchestra was launched with huge success. And now they leave us in awe with the EP ‘A Whisp Of The Atlantic’, because amongst the songs one can find a lengthy one (more than 16 minutes) that can compete with the best progressive rock from the seventies. That’s the reason why we wanted to have a conversation with guitarist David Andersson, the one who created this epic. The relaxed talking man appears to be a doctor in Sweden as well, and thus it turned into a very interesting and well-thought chat we grandly remember with pleasure.

How did this long track come into being and how did you come to the idea to do this?
It is something that I have been thinking about for a long time. Someday I wanted to write a long, epic song for Soilwork, because I knew we had the potential to do it. To surprise people and show them a new side of Soilwork. People probably don’t expect this from Soilwork. As for me, I love epic songs, like ‘Supper’s Ready’ from Genesis and stuff like that. It seemed to me a great thing to do it, because we are not able to play live anymore and I got the inspiration for this song. I started writing this song before, but it never turned out the way I wanted them to, but this one actually turned out quite good for myself.

Another issue for writing such a long track is finding a theme. I think you can tell a lot about that, because it seems rather deep and interesting to me?
Yes, there are several themes in there. The main theme is how you deal with entering a new world where you feel like an alien and how you try to be able to adapt and also how you miss what you have lost. So it is a lot about longing and desperation and trying to find enlightenment and ways to make you move on.

And finally become a better person I think, because it is also dealing with searching for a higher aim which can possibly replace religion…

Are you a person on the lookout for a spiritual thing where you can find solace?
No, it depends on what you find spiritual. I am very much an atheist myself, but the same time I love science fiction and fantasy and daydreaming about other dimensions and other worlds. So I guess my spirituality is mostly in my slightly high-practical mind, the way I wish we were a bit more fantastic and surprising in the real world. That is something I already did as a kid: when the real world gets boring, I try to escape in dream worlds instead.

And movies might help in this respect, because sometimes they are a mix of fantasy and reality and science even…
Yes, but I am mostly a book person, so I read lots of books and at the same time I am a doctor and scientist, I believe in intelligence and evolution and how that might make the world a more interesting place once you develop knowledge.

What did you study?
I am a doctor, a medical doctor, I have a PHD in gastroenterology. That is my day job when not playing music, I work at the hospital and do research.

Then you must be busy with the pandemic…
Yeah, it is not my field of expertise, but these days I have to deal with covid-19 patients as well, so it is all part of the job.

Did Soilwork sail pretty okay through the crisis or did you lose many concerts?
Oh yeah, we were on tour with The Night Flight Orchestra in March. We were supposed to play for a month, but after eleven shows we had to go home, because all the borders were closing down. We had a huge festival summer already booked and everything. So yes, we had to cancel a lot of shows, but at the same time we kept creative, releasing stuff with both Soilwork and The Night Flight Orchestra. We are almost ready with the next The Night Flight Orchestra album and then we are going to record the next Soilwork album at the beginning of the next year, so whenever what happens, we will keep releasing stuff.

Indeed, I think 2021 will be a busy year, reviewing all the new albums…
(laughs) Yeah and I am pretty busy with my work in the hospital, but I really enjoy writing music. I am glad that we can keep on creating stuff, recording and releasing stuff, that is the only way to reach our fans, where ever they are and hopefully people enjoy it that we make an effort to still do stuff and try to entertain them.

And what was the first reaction of the other members of Soilwork on your explosion of progressive art?
(laughs) Well, I warned them before, so they knew it was coming. Some of them were a bit sceptical and some of them were enthusiastic, but in the end I think they all really like it. Soilwork has been around for such a long time and it is always fun to do something new and different and be able to surprise ourselves and surprise people in general. Since it is not released yet, I don’t know the reactions of the fans, but I do a lot of interviews and all the people I talk with in the interviews seem to be very positive, so that is a good sign I guess.

What about the four other songs on the EP, because they are also linked on the theme, isn’t it?
Yes. Well it started out with me – after writing the previous album ‘Verkligheten’ for Soilwork - I went back to the studio to keep doing stuff and wrote the ‘Feverish’ single and then I wrote ‘Desperado’ and ‘Death Diviner’. We recorded them and came up with a sort of storyline and made three videos that had a storyline. They were all connected and then I wrote ‘Between The Nothingness And The Devil’ and it deals with the Atlantic. I wanted another connection and we have a great video director René U Valdes, we made lots of videos with him and it is always a great collaboration. So those five songs are connected. If you watch the videos in the right order, they are all sort of connected.

Will there ever be a video for the long epic track ‘A Whisp Of The Atlantic’?
Yes, absolutely. It will be an epic video. It is already finished. It is not out yet, but it is like a short film about a woman from Atlantis, ending up in her world and trying to make sense of what she is seeing and feeling. So it is a bit dreamy fantasy style. It also has a theme of alienation

And also liberation from the low level social and cultural debate… what do you mean with that?
Yes, absolutely. Liberation is also a theme in a way, just like the ‘Nothingness And The Devil’ video feels like liberating himself from the old gods and dogmas and old truths and finding your own way forward by emasculating a god.

The element ‘water’ should also be important. How come?
Yeah the element water is a nice metaphor for other things and in this case water is a metaphor for the human mind, the way it has rays of hope on the surface and a lot of monsters lurking in the depths of your subconscious.

Are there certain hobbies that came back in your life during the lockdown?
No not really. My hobbies are reading and cooking and you have to cook anyway (chuckles). I was reading when commuting to work and before I fall asleep. Obviously I try to write some songs and play some guitar every now and then, so it is… for me the main difference of the last year was not having live shows. So it was liberating in a way to be able to focus on the creative part of things. Of course I miss playing live, but to be realistic, it will be quite some time before I think we will be able to play live again the way we have done in the past, so right now I just continue focusing on creating music and release stuff and entertain people that way.

I think I can even hear some horns or trumpet in the long track?
Yes, that’s right, that is a flugelhorn. Everything you hear is real. We worked with guest musicians and friends from friends to have the best result. He is a great jazz trumpet player and we hired him. All the piano parts and acoustic piano, everything you hear is real. Sven Karlsson, the keyboard player really surprised me. I did not know that he was that good at playing piano. Acoustic piano. Everything you hear is played live in the studio by him.

In Sweden the government had a different approach at the pandemic. You as doctor, how do you look back at this approach from Sweden in this matter?
Personally I am – like I said – very humble about the whole thing and I don’t know who is wrong or right, because it is still going on. We still have a raging pandemic all over the western world and eventually you cannot compare societies. I mean, you cannot compare Sweden with Italy. The way we interact in our communities is very different. So far I think Sweden has done quite well, if you look at the figures so far. Sweden is a very unique society, just like the Netherlands or Italy or whatever; we all have our own social codes and our ways to interact with other people, so I think it is unfair to compare countries. I guess it will be another couple of years before we know what was the right thing to do and it is always easy to criticize, just like criticizing music, personally I try to be well-behaved. The whole phenomenon with social media and internet, I would never… I am 45 years old and I had so much things that I wanted to do, so I would never wasting my time on writing something negative about something on social media. That is not constructive. I try to give compliments if I can. Everyone makes bad decisions across the world, unless you have the whole picture, and I don’t think we have the whole picture yet. I think we should just try to stay informed and hear the local rules, accepting that the pandemic is a fact. We cannot do much more than just follow the restrictions and listen to some music to feel better (chuckles). Perhaps write a positive comment if you like what you hear and if you don’t like it, just shut up haha.

Why should you listen to music you don’t like?
I would never do that. It is not interesting and you don’t get friends by complaining, but now that you cannot meet people in person, some people might have to do something that makes life bearable.

To occlude, some thoughts about the artwork?
I came up with the basic idea of the artwork and then Georgia made a beautiful painting out of my basic idea. You see the tiny wave from the ocean at the forefront, which is like the whisp(ering) of the Atlantic and then you have those almost H.P. Lovecraft-like figures rising up out the ocean below which is also like a symbol for the human psyche. The whisp is the hope and the monsters on the back are your subconscious monsters.

Geplaatst door Vera op zaterdag 12 december 2020 - 17:23:08
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